7 Common Myths About ADD/ADHD Debunked

7 Common Myths About ADD ADHD Debunked

There are so many myths floating around about ADD/ADHD, it can be hard for you to know what’s fact and what’s fake. Knowing the reality of this common condition is one of the first steps to finding the most effective solutions for yourself or your child.

Myth #1: ADD/ADHD is just a fad and an excuse for bad behavior.

Fact: ADD is real and is recognized as a medical condition by the American Psychiatric Association, National Institutes of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Plus, it can be seen in the brain. Brain imaging research shows that ADD/ADHD affects many areas of the brain, including:

  • Prefrontal cortex and cerebellum–involved in concentration, attention span, judgment, organization, planning, and impulse control
  • Anterior cingulate gyrus—involved in shifting attention
  • Temporal lobes—involved in memory, learning, and emotional reactions
  • Basal ganglia—involved in the production of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which drives the prefrontal cortex
  • Deep limbic system—involved with setting emotional tone and bonding

With so many brain regions involved, it’s understandable how the condition can have such a negative impact on learning, behavior, and emotions.  A variety of brain patterns have been associated with the condition, showing that there are actually 7 types of ADD/ADHD.

Myth #2: ADD/ADHD is only found in hyperactive boys.

Fact: Contrary to popular belief, not all people with this condition are hyperactive, and although it is about three times more commonly diagnosed in boys, ADD/ADHD also affects girls and women. One of the most common types of the condition is known as “inattentive ADD,” and it is characterized by having trouble focusing and being easily distracted. This type often goes undiagnosed because these people tend to be quiet and don’t draw attention to themselves with their behavior. Many of these children, teenagers, and adults are unjustly labeled as “lazy,” “unmotivated,” or “slow.” Girls tend to have inattentive ADD as much as or even more than boys.

Myth #3: ADD/ADHD is overdiagnosed.

Fact: The common perception that ADD/ADHD is overdiagnosed is not supported by scientific evidence, according to a 2018 review of the research in JAMA Network Open. Although it is true that the number of people diagnosed with ADD/ADHD is rising, research shows that it remains underdiagnosed and undertreated in some people, such as adults and females. In addition, over two-thirds of people with ADD/ADHD have one or more co-occurring conditions—such as oppositional defiant disorder, depression, or bipolar disorder—and their ADHD symptoms are often misdiagnosed for those other issues.

Myth #4: ADD/ADHD is only a minor problem.

Fact: Left untreated, or when mistreated, ADD/ADHD is a very serious societal problem. Consider these dire statistics:

  • 33% never finish high school compared to the national average of 8.7% (25% repeat at least one grade).
  • 52% of untreated teens and adults abuse drugs and alcohol.
  • 19% smoke cigarettes (compared to 10% of the general population).
  • 46% of untreated hyperactive boys will be arrested for a felony by age 16, compared to 11% for controls.
  • 21-25% of inmates in a number of studies have been found to have ADD/ADHD.
  • 75% have interpersonal problems
  • 60% higher risk of being involved in a bicycle collision
  • A higher percentage have motor vehicle accidents, speeding tickets, citations for driving without a license, and suspended or revoked licenses.
  • They have more medical visits and emergency room visits.
  • They get injured up to 5 times more than others.

Myth #5: People with ADD/ADHD should just try harder.

Fact: Brain imaging studies show that when people with ADD/ADHD try to concentrate, it actually shuts down activity in the parts of the brain involved focus and follow-through. No amount of effort can change this. It’s like asking a person who needs glasses to simply “try harder” to see.

Myth #6: Everyone outgrows ADD/ADHD around age 12 or 13.

Fact: Many people never outgrow ADD/ADHD, and their symptoms continue to interfere with their daily lives for decades. An estimated 30-65% of children, who are diagnosed with the condition will have disabling symptoms into adulthood.

Myth #7: Medication is the best treatment for ADD/ADHD.

Fact: Treatment can be very effective when properly targeted and especially when using a comprehensive approach that includes education, support, exercise, nutrition, and personalized supplements and medications (when needed). Unfortunately, many healthcare professionals take a one-size-fits-all approach to medication, which may work for some people with ADD/ADHD but can make others worse.

If you or your child are experiencing symptoms associated with ADD/ADHD, it’s important to get a complete evaluation to make sure you receive the targeted solutions you need. At Amen Clinics, we have helped tens of thousands of people with all 7 types of ADD/ADHD overcome their symptoms, boost their performance at school or work, and improve their behavior.

For more information or to speak with a specialist, call 888-288-9834 or schedule a visit online.


  1. Being diagnosed as and adult gives me a different perspective. When I took the medicine, I didn’t feel like myself; so, I stopped. Just like the head of Jet Blue, I think some of my creative ideas come from the ADD. “Trying harder” didn’t work. What did work for everything is to minimize the distractions. If I’m cleaning I have rules to 1. never leave the room (so have everything you need in that room and put thing that don’t belong there just outside the door.) 2. clean like a clock. Knowing that I’m ADD has been good because I try very hard and I just don’t get the work done. Knowing that I need to hire people to help me organize is a relief.

    Comment by Moire K. Lynch — September 11, 2019 @ 1:37 PM

  2. Minimizing the distrations was the way it worked for me too. If I had to study I went to the library where it was quiet and I also like to work hard that helped too. Also I work at a field of doing art therapy which allows me to be creative and free and not too much organization and distraction.

    Comment by patricia doyle — September 12, 2019 @ 4:38 PM

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